Boise State finished the 2006 regular season with an undefeated record for the second time in the past three years. Two years ago, they had to settle for a Liberty Bowl date with Louisville where they lost 44-40. This year, thanks to the addition of a fifth BCS game and rules changes that made BCS bowls more inclusive to other conferences, the Broncos get a $14-$17 million dollar pay
date with one of the nation's most-storied programs.
This is Oklahoma's 40th bowl game compared to the up-and-coming Broncos 7th. Actually, it's not fair to call Boise State "up and coming" - they've been manhandling opponents for a few years, but haven't had many opportunities to tackle the college football elite teams.
This year, they made a statement by crushing an Oregon State team 42-14 that would later end USC's 27-game PAC-10 winning streak.
Boise State has the nation's 2nd-ranked offense (fellow WAC member Hawaii is first), led by QB Jared Zabransky and RB Ian Johnson.
Zabransky's QB rating of 161.9 was second only to Hawaii's record-setting Colt Brennan in the WAC, and 8th nationally. Zabransky was 172-of-259 for 2,325 yards, 20 TD's and 7 INT's. He was sacked just 16 times all year.
Johnson led the nation with 24 touchdowns and was 4th in rushing yardage with 1,613.
The Bronco defense ranked 18th nationally in points allowed, 14th in total yards, and 7th in rushing defense.
Oklahoma enters this game with a 10-2 record but few would argue that it should be 11-1 after blown calls and replays robbed the Sooners at Oregon. Before the season even began, the Sooners had issues as QB Rhett Bomar was dismissed from the team. He and offensive guard J.D. Quinn were found to have received improper benefits. When the season did begin, Heisman Trophy candidate running back Adrian Peterson broke his collarbone and wound up missing seven games.
In the end, converted receiver Paul Thompson proved to be a capable quarterback and improved tremendously as the season progressed. Remarkably, Peterson still managed to gain 935 yards and score 10 touchdowns in just six games. Oklahoma still ranked 10th nationally in rushing yards as Allen Patrick ripped off 700 yards in relief of Peterson.
On defense, the Sooners allowed just 15.3 points and 280.6 yards per game to rank 17th in both categories.
This is Oklahoma's first trip to the Fiesta Bowl since a 32-21 loss to Arizona State in 1983, and just their third appearance ever in this game.
Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, and Boise State's first-year head coach Chris Petersen, were both national coach of the year candidates.